Joshua Keel

Max Shank and the 5-Minute Movement Flow

October 1, 2021

If you’re like me, a knowledge worker, you sit at a desk most of the day. And as we all know, sitting in one position for hours on end just isn’t good for us. Our bodies crave movement, and when they don’t get it, they gradually lose the ability to move in basic patterns, like squatting. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.

Unfortunately, we’re up against the forces of entropy and gravity. In addition, cultural norms have made our movement more constrained than it ever was on the plains of our ancestors, when we squatted multiple times a day just to relieve ourselves.

While considering ways to mitigate my movement deficit, I happened across a blogger and YouTuber called Max Shank. Max stands out in a fitness space where too many practitioners are focused solely on bigger muscles, tighter butts, and washboard abs.

Max suggests that a more sustainable, healthy and lifelong focus for fitness is rightly movement itself. The main physical feature we will likely care about at 91 years old, if we should be so lucky, is to be able to walk, go to the bathroom without assistance, and generally be a mobile human being, whose body is resilient and strong enough to break a fall.

Enter the 5-Minute Flow. The idea is that each morning, right after waking, you set a timer for 5 minutes, and move your body until the timer goes off. Then you drink a big glass of water, and start the rest of your day.

The power in this idea, for me, is that 5 minutes is a completely doable amount of time. It’s very hard to say “I don’t have 5 minutes”. You may not have 5 minutes right after waking, but surely you have 5 minutes—maybe time you used to spend on your phone—somewhere in your day.

You may think 5 minutes isn’t enough to produce a change, but Max pushes back on this idea. He insists that the 5-Minute Flow be done every day, and if you do that, you’ve just added 35 minutes (5 minutes x 7 days) of extra intentional movement each week.

Equally important, in my experience, is that checking in with your body each morning—feeling it out, seeing how it pops and where it feels tight, waking it up—is a great way to enhance your kinesthetic awareness throughout the day. You may find yourself sitting up straighter in your chair, squatting down to pick something off the floor, or taking a spontaneous movement break from work at your desk.

Movement is like motor oil for our bodies. Without a strong daily dose of it, our engine starts to break down. Run it that way for too long, and injuries and pain will inevitably result. A great way to combat this is to start the morning with intentional movement. To find out how to incorporate movement flows into your life, take a look at Max’s article explaining the 5-Minute Flow, as well as his 5-Minute Flow playlist on YouTube.